When I had brought up Hindu life in America vs. in India with Swami Yuktatmananda, he was very compassionate toward both. The first thing he discussed with me was his literary studies. They consisted of Confucius, Swami Vivekananda, Socrates, Walt Whitman, Bergson…He is very eclectic from East to West.
When it came to spirituality, he said that it wasn’t entirely right to say that Hindus are more spiritual than Americans. I looked at him in disbelief from his voice, and I think he noticed, because he asked me how much attention I was paying to the people sitting around me when I had gone to Buddha’s birthday, because many of them were Americans, and that I had put most of my focus on the words in the service alone rather than the spirituality given off by the different groups of people sitting next to and around me.
He had told me, “passion is passion from East to West”. With poetry that represents love, if the different languages were removed, Occidental and Oriental love poetry is the same.
Hinduism has been more established in America than it has been in Europe. There are Hindu cults, such as the Ramakrishna movement, there’s the Oriental cults, partly from Hindu origin, such as Buddhism and Sikhism. There are Hindu cultural movements, professors and students, and their influence on Western thought in thinkers like Emerson.
Emerson’s journals show he was reading the Bhagavad Gita and essays on the Vedas. Emerson was strongly influenced by the Vedas, and much of his writing has strong shades of nondualism (things appear distinct while not being separate).
Swami Yuktatmananda left me with this, which was pretty amazing, because it was something I had my eyes opened to in one of my Lives of Hinduism lectures…”Hinduism in America cannot be completely understood without the knowledge of certain facts relating to the history of past and present achievements.”
Think about it.